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Posted on Monday, May 22 - 2006

The Oracle at Delphi

Legend has it that Zeus released 2 eagles from the opposite ends of the Earth and where they met became known at the center of the world. That place was Delphi, and though perhaps not really the center of the world, it was a place that played an important role in ancient Greek history.How the Oracle came to be is also well-documented in Greek myth. Originally, there was a shrine at Delphi to the Earth Mother, Gaia. That shrine was home to a giant serpent, named Python, who guarded the sanctuary.Apollo came to slay the serpent, and then claimed the site for Himself. On a cultural level, this part of the myth represents how civilization overcame the earlier, more primitive ways of Greece. Aside from these mythical origins, the Oracle at Delphi was certainly a real andimportant place. Located up on the south side of Mt.

Parnassus, the sanctuary is only ruins now. The Delphi Oracle was quite a complex of buildings, besides the theatre of the Oracle itself. There were many temples and shrines at Delphi, as well as the treasuries for the surrounding city-states. It was a sign of prosperity and status to have one's treasury located at Delphi. No major decision was made in Greece without consulting the Oracle, particularly in matters of economics and politics.

How the Oracle Worked: People wishing to gain a glimpse of the future from the Oracle, would give their questions to the priests of the temple, who would then give them to the priestesses of Apollo (known as the Pythia). The Pythia sat upon a tripod in the centre of the temple, and "inhaled fumes from the earth" in order to speak directly to Apollo. They would then provide a cryptic message in response. The message was given back tothe priests who translated it for the petitioner. Though the records of the Oracle clearly indicate that fumes came up through a crack in the earth, geological studies have failed to prove that such a phenomenon could have every existed. Who knows? Perhaps the historians of the time took a little literary license. The importance and popularity of Delphi was strongest between 800BC and 400AD. With a history spanning more than 600 years, I obviously can't cover everything. This is just a snapshot of the Oracle and its origins. Article Source

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